MCRI flow cytometry and and cell sorting

Expertise and instrumentation for flow cytometry analysis and cell sorting is available at MCRI

First published: 19/11/2014

Updated at: 21/11/2014 at 9:27 am

Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI), co-located with the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, is the largest research institute for children’s health in Australia.

Research there focuses on solving child health problems by investigating cell biology, general population health, infection and immunity, clinical sciences and genetics.

With years of investigation in these fields to its credit, the Flow Cytometry and Imaging Facility at MCRI, provides expertise and instrumentation for flow cytometry analysis and cell sorting. It is also equipped with confocal and wide field microscopy instrumentation for imaging fixed and live cells or tissue, available to approved users through ARIN.

The capabilities including flow karyotyping and sorting chromosomes are available to all users within the research community, including the private sector, on a fee-for-service basis.

Instrument training can be provided together with help in experimental design and data analysis, interpretation, storage, backup and archiving.

Facility Manager Dr Matthew Burton, has spent more than 10 years running flow labs and has a background in immunology.

“The technology here is cutting edge and versatile. The cell sorters can sort cells at rates of 40,000 cells per second, while measuring 20 different parameters on each cell.

“The facility is currently equipped with three cell sorters – MoFlo, Influx and a new Aria Fusion 5 laser to expand capacity and capabilities,” Matt says.

“We also have two analysers an LSR II and the new LSR Fortessa x 20 with 18 colours, HTS plate sampler, small particle detector and a DeltaVision restorative deconvolution live cell imaging microscope and a Zeiss LSM 780 Confocal microscope, also setup for extended live cell imaging.” Instrumentation at Matt’s facility is accessible through Australian Research Infrastructure Network (ARIN).

To see the MCRI Flow Cytomotry and Confocal Microscopy facility on ARIN

MCRI Research

User of the facility and MCRI researcher Dr Marguerite (Maggie) Evans-Galea investigates Friedreich ataxia, an inherited neurodegenerative disease affecting hundreds of people in Australia. The onset of Friedreich ataxia symptoms typically occurs around 10 years of age. Certain neurons in the brain and spinal cord degenerate over time as a result of very low levels of the protein frataxin, and this leads to the progressive loss of muscle coordination and cardiomyopathy (heart disease).

There is currently no cure, nor proven treatment, for Friedreich ataxia but scientists like Maggie are developing novel gene and cell therapies that aim to slow disease progression and improving the symptoms, by replacing missing or malfunctioning genes with new genetic material inside cells.

Using mouse models of disease, Maggie transplants bone marrow into mice affected with Friedreich ataxia to see if cells carrying frataxin can improve neuronal cell function and reduce disease symptoms. These bone marrow cells also carry the green fluorescent protein (GFP) so they can be easily detected and tracked inside transplanted mice.

Eight weeks after transplant, Maggie sends blood samples to the MCRI Flow Cytometry and Imaging Facility to measure the levels of GFP in the red blood cells, platelets and white blood cells. Once she knows the transplant has been successful, she can then determine whether there’s an improvement in protein expression and disease phenotype.

“Matt has years of experience in experimental design, data analysis and interpretation. He and his staff save us a lot of time and provide quality data. We can bring whole-blood samples in at 9am, submit the stained samples by 12 noon and have the data by the end of the day,” she said.

The MCRI is also part of the Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance where recent important discoveries have been made about the genetic link between muscle formation and some forms of muscle dysfunction.

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